reincarN8ed's Battleborn Review

Battleborn is like a college graduate: it has a ton of heart and potential, but no real direction. During the time I spent with the game, I felt equal parts joy, frustration, and confusion. Battleborn has all of the quirks of Borderlands with half the charm, but even something half as good as Borderlands is still ahead of the curve.

Battleborn features a cooperative campaign and competitive multiplayer modes, the latter of which is by far the game’s strong point. The multiplayer modes are fast and franctic and feature varying degrees of strategy hidden beneath a simple objective. Capture is simplest (and frankly the most boring) of the multiplayer modes. Capture points A, B, and C and hold them to gain points, first team to 1000 wins. This game mode has been done 100 times before, and 10 times better. It almost seems like Capture was thrown in just to bring the total number of game modes up to 3. Meltdown is a bit more unique as players escort waves of AI minions to sacrificial grinders to earn points. It reminds me of Monday Night Combay a bit, which is not a bad thing. Coordination is key in this mode as players balance between actively attacking enemy players and pushing minion waves. It forced me to rethink my usual strategy of simply fighting enemy players like a deathmatch, and it was a welcome breath of fresh air. Incursion is the most complicated of the 3 game modes, to the point that I think it drives away inexperienced players. Each team has 2 massive sentries and incoming waves of minions, and the goal is to destroy the enemy’s sentries. It sounds simple on the surface, but there is so much going on in the background. Of the 3 game modes, Incursion is by far the strongest and draws the biggest crowd. Unfortunately, players looking for map variety will be disappointed with only 2 maps per mode. Fortunately, while the terrain remains the same, how players traverse it varies depending on which of the 25 playable characters they choose from.

Battleborn’s 25-character roster features a wide variety of unique characters. There are healers, snipers, shooters, brawlers, tanks, controllers, slashers, stabbers, fliers, and more. Not every character is for everyone though. I found some to be either confusing or downright annoying. But for every annoying character there are 2 more I enjoyed playing, and I won’t fault the game for having too many options. While the characters are fun to play as, they lack depth. Each character has a set of lore challenges that unlock some light reading material about each character’s back story, but these are locked from the start. So I have no idea who or what Attikus is until I complete his lore challenges. It would nice to know a little something about the character I’m playing as. Speaking of locked from the start, 19 of the 25 characters are locked until you complete a certain challenge or reach a certain level. It took my forever to unlock one of my favorite characters, which was a pain in the ass. Thankfully, I didn’t have to pay any extra money to unlock the other 19 characters.

Battleborn’s campaign is probably its weakest link. The story is there is only one star left in the universe, and everyone is fighting over it. The game’s antagonist, Rendain, is actively trying to extinguish the star and it’s up to you to stop him. The sounds like a good SyFy Original movie, but much like a SyFy Original it is executed poorly. Each mission has its own objective: capture a rogue AI, destroy an ancient superweapon protect a research facility, but most of the in-game objectives are “protect a thing from 2-3 waves of enemies.” It suffers from Destiny-syndrome where the gameplay is tight and fun, but the objectives are boring and repetitive. Up until the final boss fight Rendain only antagonizes the player through radio transmissions and sending underlings to fight for him. When I finally got the fight Rendain I had almost no motivation to do so. It’s a shame Rendain is such a bland villain because he seems to have real potential. He has bits of dialogue that hint at a more dynamic villain, but we never see that side of him. The ending of the “story” offers no closure and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The campaign missions feel like bland, interchangeable set pieces, and most objectives boil down to “do this because this is a video game.”

I want to specifically make note of the Prologue. The Prologue is the most engaging part of the entire campaign. It has in-game cinematics as well as hand-drawn cutscenes before and after the mission. The in-game dialogue is directed at the player so you feel like you’re being talked to, not talked at. The other 8 campaign missions all open with the same sweeping visual accompanied by a disembodied voice just expositioning the hell out of the mission. Some missions literally cut to black at the end and take you right to the “Mission Complete” screen (which takes waaaaaay too long to go away, btw). Where are those awesome hand-drawn cutscenes?! I wouldn’t say I was upset with the campaign, just disappointed, not unlike your dad.

All in all, I enjoy Battleborn, and that’s really what video games come down to: enjoyment. It’s far from Game of the Year, but I’m also not going to stop playing it anytime soon.

Final Score: 7/10
Reincarnated as: a liberal arts graduate

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Have to agree to your points regarding the usual Storymissions vs Prologue. I expected a short animation video for all missions after the rather badass intro animation to add some depths to the story, sadly there was nothing in this regard…
The dialoque is best in Proloque & Algorithm as well.

For now most of BB´s story plays in my/the gamers head alone. You´ve to link all parts of lore in your mind to get a vivid picture - which is great, I love some material for own imaginations. But I fear its dissapointing for many others who expected more deep storytelling.
This leads to the masses ignoring the stories completely, which I can somehow understand looking on it from this perspective.

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I didn’t come here to feel :anguished:

Seriously though, that’s a fair review. I’d agree with the your criticisms of the game.

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Same feeling! :smiley:
But he made a quiet fair review, I agree in that!
I was very very eager for lore&story, - I think I´m just to much of a fangirl to be dissapointed by it, hehe^^

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I don’t know what I really expected tbh. I played the hell out of the algorithm and voids edge in the beta so I knew there weren’t any cut scenes (that zooming in on a planet with a few lines of dialogue doesn’t really count imo) but after playing the prologue I was wanting more. They gave us a taste of what they COULD have put into the pve campaign but they just didn’t. I don’t know whether it was a time/cost issue but it does set up the player for disappointment when it starts off like that. Even having the lore hidden behind a challenge wall I feel was a mistake. I get that they wanted to give the players another carrot on a stick to work towards, but come on… this game is so light on lore and story depth as it is. Not to mention the lore unlocks are just weird mission reports with unrelated and ambiguous information. But gods be damned do I still love this game LOL

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Great review. Campaign was definitely a let down after playing Borderlands 2. Borderlands 2 story and gameplay were so good, it is the only game I have ever purchased all the DLC for.

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I love this game but it definitely lacks polish. I really believe GBX should’ve taken a few months to go through the open beta suggestions/data instead of just releasing as is.

I agree with @shinobido101 that the prologue is a taste of what could’ve been. However even that was plagued with rubberbanding.

I thought it would be game design 101 that if you’re going to make an online only game, make sure the servers are up to scratch.

I can forgive networking issues, I agree with you that the servers should be up to scratch, with the amount of examples we have seen in recent years of how even the big game companies can completely screw up the release of an online only game, you’d think it would be game design 101.

Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way to test it will all be 100% on release day until , it’s just too complex, there are so many things that could and do go wrong. I actually think that gearbox have done a pretty good job overall in this area, I have had disconnects and sometimes I have not been able to login but these haven’t been prolific.

As I wrote that I did suddenly think of one thing though, the way the loot is handled baffles me, every time you delete an item it is deleted from the server on an individual basis, deleting 20 items of grey loot is tedious to say the least, not to mention how inefficient this is, why they do not bulk the requests together into a single transaction is beyond me.

For me, you hit the nail on the head when you said “lacks polish”. It just feels a little “early access” at times with regards to the rough edges it has and the limited content it was released with. Just a bit more time and they would have had a great game, not just a good game.

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Great review, I especially like the fact you didn’t make a single reference to the thing that I don’t want to mention here.

At the end you say you can see yourself playing this for a long time to come, this would be mostly PVP you reckon?

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You wouldn’t be saying that if you lived in Western Australia. Trust me.

I wouldn’t be playing games if I lived in Western Australia at all, I’d be out on a dirt bike or getting intimate with ningaloo.

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great points that i agree with, with the exception of your analysis of incursion. i find it to be the simplest, most noob friendly game mode, with the obvious exception of capture. Idk if it is because of the map layout of the only two incursion maps or what, but it is by far the least balanced game mode in relation to variety of successful strategy at high levels. Meltdown at high levels still definitely way over favors range, aoe, cc, but in incursion it is amplified 1000 pct. Melee is effective in pubs in incursion for obvious reasons, but at high levels it is really just support/aoe/range/cc. Melee is definitely way more viable in meltdown than it is in incursion. just my two cents, but great analysis overall

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Haha nice one.

There is reasonable criticism throughout the forum, it just gets hidden by almost every post reverting to “lack of positivity” or “BB vs OW”

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Hmm… I like the story. I never looked at a story for what it missing. I looked at a story for what it is and what it is trying to do. I understood that each mission is a self contained story. I also realized that completing the missions once does not explained the whole story of the mission and completing multiple times I learn back story of the characters and their world. Playing certain characters on certain missions brings new insight. Gameplay wise is usually subjective but I like the defence missions. I enjoyed them the most because out of all the type of missions they showcase that team work is needed to get through them. Plus it also showcase the characters skills better than the raid or escort missions. At first when playing the story it gives off a very shallow experience but this is just a facade. When playing multiple times like it was construted, you get rewarded with new dialogue that helps you understabd the characters more. In this way you learn that Rendain is a very tragic villian and that there more going on than what the story is showing on the surface. I commend Gearbox for constructing a story that gains more depth with replaybility than a normal straightforward story. Just my opinion on the story.